It may seem odd to release another slightly improved Snapdragon 865 when the 888 represents a more substantial leap and doesn’t come with a huge bounty – the 888 equipped Galaxy s21 costs less than its predecessor, after all. The addition may well confuse people wondering why Qualcomm would have such a crowded high-end SoC lineup.
However, manufacturing could provide a clue. The Snapdragon 870 is built on a 7 nanometer process where the 888 uses cutting edge 5nm technology. This new chip could not only cut costs by using older production techniques, but could give phone makers a reasonably fast chip if 888 supplies are tight. You won’t have to settle for last year’s performance on a flagship or high-end phone, even if the gains are very modest.